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November 02, 2006

Actor Arthur Hill Dies

Virginia Woolf to Owen Marshall

Arthur Hill, an actor whose career included acclaimed work on stage, in feature films and on television died October 22 at a Pacific Palisades care facility. Hill, who was 84, had been battling Alzheimer’s disease.

A familiar face on network television during the 1970s and ’80s, Hill appeared in several made for TV movies, including Death be Not Proud and Judge Horton and the Scottsboro Boys. But he was perhaps best known as the star of the legal drama Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, which aired on ABC from 1971-1974.

Hill also appeared in such features as The Ugly American, with Marlon Brando, Harper, starring Paul Newman, the science-fiction thriller The Andromeda Strain and the World War II ensemble A Bridge Too Far.

Some of Hill’s finest work was done in the theater. In 1962 he won a Tony Award and a New York Drama Critics award for his performance as George, the put-upon husband in the corrosive Edward Albee drama Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? His other acclaimed stage work included a lead role opposite Ingrid Bergman and Colleen Dewhurst in Eugene O’Neill’s More Stately Mansions, the debut production at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

A native of Saskatchewan, Canada, Hill served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, after which he earned his degree from the University of British Columbia. He began performing as a way to support himself through school, when he found work as a performer in radio plays for the Canadian Broadcasting Co. performing in radio theater. Although he intended to pursue a career in law, he took to acting and never stopped.

In 1948 Hill moved to England with his wife, actress Peggy Hassard. There he worked for the BBC in radio plays as well as on stage and television. His stage work in Britain led to a New York production of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker, which had originated in London. More American work followed.

By 1968, Hill had moved to Los Angeles, where he found steady work in TV and film.

He appeared in more than 50 television series; his most recent was a 1990 episode of Murder, She Wrote.

Hill’s 56-year marriage to Hassard ended with her death from Alzheimer's disease in 1998. He is survived by a son, as well as his second wife, Anne-Sophie Taraba; a stepdaughter, a step-granddaughter and two sisters.

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